Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC
For the Week of May 14, 2012

The reorganizations recommended by Mitt Romney’s consulting firm, Bain & Company, as part of what UC Berkeley calls its “Operational Excellence” initiative will save millions less than initially projected, reported the Daily Californian. The original savings projections were $75 million, which then climbed to $112 million in January, which an April campus report scaled back to $95.2 million – proving that they don’t really know what the whole process is costing. Bain & Co. received $7.5 million for its efforts.

“We’re not tone deaf,” promised the trustees of the CSU system as they announced they would be re-examining a policy to cap executive pay increases at no more than 10%. The trustees drew criticism after they gave the incoming president at San Diego State a 34% increase -- $100,000 -- over the outgoing president’s salary last year, on the same day they approved a 12% student fee increase. Last week, the CSU trustees voted to allow increases greater than 10% for executives, if the excess were paid from “non-public” CSU foundations. Perhaps the term isn’t “tone deaf,” but “brain dead.”  Eleven CSU students on Friday ended a ten-day hunger strike to demand a five-year moratorium on fee increases.

Last week saw another round of stories about possible tuition increases if voters fail to pass the governor's tax plan in November, especially in light of California's diminishing tax revenues. ­The San Francisco Chronicle, the Daily Californian, and KGO Radio all reported that the UC regents will consider a fall tuition increase of another 6 percent at its meeting next week. The Associated Press reports that "No action on tuition is expected until July."

In the meanwhile, students are gearing up for a fight about another rate hike, reports KQED News. California Student Association president Claudia Magaña said "We won't stand for it.... Students can't take on the burden any longer."

Observers throughout the state worry about where the continual tuition increases are leading. With "the three-fold [tuition] increase that has taken place in the past 10 years, claims the Riverside Press-Enterprise, the argument that "California’s public institutions are still a bargain ... is getting harder to substantiate."

A report by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California has found a 20 percent decrease in freshmen enrollment rates at both UCs and CSUs. “Defunding Higher Education: What are the Effects on College Enrollment?” charts the deleterious impact of increased class sizes, restricted admissions, and other budget-based measures. The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported on the effects at UCR.

The Sacramento Bee worries that "more students are looking out of state to get an education," and "if the trend continues, it could lead to a drain of talent, since students who attend college out of state tend not to return to California.”

Recent proposals to change UC's governance "hints that administrators, faculty members, and students feel frustrated by the current structure and that fundamental reform of the system could be on the horizon," according to Inside Higher Ed. "UC ... has locked itself into an arteriosclerotic governance and policy structure that’s become ever more unwieldy," states commentator Peter Schrag in the California Progress Report.

UC Berkeley police this morning raided the Occupy the Farm encampment on university-run land, after protestors refused meet the university’s deadline to clear out. A group of students and residents had marched onto the agricultural land on Earth Day and begun farming it, insisting that UC allow a sustainable urban demonstration garden on part of the site, which is slated for development. Word about the occupation was spreading, with articles like this one from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Jon Carroll. The Washington Post provides this video of today’s arrests.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and former California Supreme Court justice Cruz Reynoso (who headed a task force that investigated last year's pepper-spray incident) are among the speakers to appear at a hearing to discuss UC’s responses to campus demonstrations by the Senate Education Committee and the Assembly Higher Education Committee on Tuesday (at 1:30 p.m. in Capitol Room 4202).

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